The Norse were only one of several groups who lived at L’Anse aux Meadows. Aboriginal peoples have used the site as far back as 6000 years ago, probably because of its rich marine harvest, and its close proximity to Labrador. The tools and campgrounds of as many as five or six distinct groups have been identified at the site. Prominent among them are the Dorset people who had their camps on the southern shore of the bay, more than two hundred years before the Norse. Curiously enough, none were there during the century of the Viking explorations.
The Norse did encounter aboriginal people in other parts of Vinland and also to the north of L’Anse aux Meadows. The Norse called them skrælings. Some believed that clashes with the skrælings discouraged the Norse from making deeper inroads into Vinland and eventually forced them to return home. Whatever the reason, the Norse did decide to stay closer to home and to Europe where they could find all they needed, without requiring further explorations of the New World.